Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Contest Winner, FREE short story, plus info about my new ebook, Waiting For Midnight

So many things to share today, I'm not sure where to start. How about announcing the winner of a contest I had running last week?

Last week, I ran a contest for a $25 Amazon gift certificate. The winner was chosen using random.org and the winner is....


Congrats, Tez! I'll be contacting you later today with prize details.

And a heartfelt thank you to all the people who posted comments last week. You all rock!

But wait, I have more news to share:

My ebook anthology, WAITING FOR MIDNIGHT, is now available for purchase. Eeeeek! I thought it was going to take me longer to format the book than it did, so the book is finished surprisingly early. Sometime soon, I'll share details on how I self-published this ebook, so if you're hoping to do one too, maybe that post will help.

WAITING FOR MIDNIGHT is approximately 70 pages long, contains 16 speculative fiction short stories and, right now, is exclusively available on Amazon for .99. Here's a LINK to where you can purchase the book.

If you do happen to check out the Amazon page, I would greatly appreciate it if you would consider Liking the book, and possibly sharing it on Facebook, Twitter,or Pinterest, as well. There's a section for social media sharing on the right side of the page, just below where you purchase the book.

And yet, there's still One More Cool Thing:



DURING THE DAY, HE SLEPT amidst rubble and grass, hidden from view, partially because his skin was now the color of dirt. During the evenings, he would creep out, sometimes on all fours—until he knew it was safe. Then he would scamper about beneath the stars and a crescent moon, his limbs lean and his clothes ragged. We all did our best to ignore him. We called him the Perro Muchacho. Dog Boy. He ran with the wild dogs and that name seemed to fit him.

I watched him with a cautious eye, fearful of the magic that I knew trailed after him. It coiled like a snake in the shadows, dangerous, forbidden. He stole from my trash and I would chase him away. I’d toss small stones in his direction, careful not to come too close, although I know for certain that I struck him once. For after that he kept a distance from me.

His hair stuck out in thick tufts, never combed or washed. His shirt had lost its color and its sleeves were gone, and I often wondered if he shivered while he tried to sleep. One night, when he and his pack of stray dogs were off prowling through alleys and along the riverbed, I crept out to his hiding place. I found a few toys lying about—a ragged, lopsided rabbit, most of the stuffing gone; a small truck, the paint almost completely worn off. There, I left an old blanket. And a Bible. I doubted that he could read, but I knew that if he could walk on two legs, then he had a soul.

And there was no doubt in my mind that he needed saving.

I ran my fingers over my rosary as I hobbled back to my house, the stucco white as bone. A prayer whispered over my lips as I hailed one saint after another, searching for one that could save a creature like him. I tried and found none, so in the end, I merely repeated the same words over and over, as each bead slipped through my fingers.

Help him, please, help him, please.
Before the moon swallows the sky.

She was growing above me, even as I hunched over broken cobblestones. She was eating stars and growing more bloated with each and every bite. In a few days, she would be full.

I didn’t want to see what would happen then to Dog Boy. I didn’t want him to come to my house and scratch claws across the lattice on my windows. Didn’t want to hear the cries that would no longer sound human.
For some reason, when the moon has swallowed the sky, on that same day, the sun grows weak. He hides, as if terrified, behind mountain peaks and clouds. His face refuses to reflect in the river water. He turns into an old, weak man. His steps across the heavens falter, as if he could plummet from the sky and burn up the sea, turn the world into a land of mist and shadow.

That was how he looked today.

Meanwhile, I saw the boy, awake, playing in the long grass, his hair blowing in the wind, his cheeks ruddy, the dust stirring around him in a thick cloud. He ran from one edge of the wilderness to the other, no longer afraid to be seen. All around him, his furry companions loped, mouths open wide in toothy grins, paws jumping up and down. They whined and yipped, tails wagging.

They knew his secret.

He paused, when the wind grew calm, as the sun slid behind the church bell tower, and he looked at me. A smile creased his dirty face and he cocked his head. I realized then that he had made a sling and was carrying the Bible like a talisman. A strap of old cloth hung across one shoulder, then widened to form a pouch that draped in the crescent of his narrow back. When he moved, I could see the glint of gold-edged pages and the gnarled black crust of leather binding.

I wondered if he ever opened it. If he even looked at the pictures. You can tell a lot from the illustrations. The baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, the exodus of Moses from Egypt, the ark of Noah with all the animals. Although, without the words or someone to tell him the stories—

He was just another beast.

Still I could see the spark of intelligence in his eyes. And despite his wild nature, there was no evil streak. Not like Jose, who beat his wife twice a week. Not like Manuel, who took his wages in tequila and let his children grow weak from hunger.

I knew all the secrets of this little village, was forced to listen to them every Sunday morning. Then grant forgiveness. My fingers ran over my rosary again, words familiar and sweet pursing my lips. I watched the boy then as he turned and dashed off into the nearby forest, knowing it was just as well.

If he disappeared, then none of us would see him when he turned.

And none of us, me especially, would be responsible.

A wind like fire blew through the hills, scorched the edge of our village the moment the moon revealed herself. Silver light spilled down narrow streets, turned everything and everyone white hot and still. All doors swung shut and curtains were drawn across open windows, a rabid hush of Hail Marys and Our Fathers murmured while chairs rocked and shoulders bowed.

I cracked my back door open, slipped outside without a sound, my bare feet padding over a dirt trail that led toward the wildwood and the river. Somewhere along the way, my rosary slipped from my fingers and tangled on the ground, but I did not stop. Every bone in my body ached as I moved, my muscles weary of this journey. I felt a tremor in my leg as I descended the river bank, as I moved closer to the rippling water. All I wanted was to immerse myself in the cool reflection of that damned, swollen moon. My robes fell away and I was waist deep in the sluggish current, fingers trailing behind me. Spasms wrenched my arms, twisted them back and forth and for a moment, I wondered if maybe this time I would fall headlong into the water and drown.

Part of me wished it to be true.

Death can be a good companion, if you are ready for him, when he comes.

My left foot slipped and I tumbled to my knees, up to my chin in blue-back water. That was when I heard him behind me. I turned my head and saw Dog Boy on the river bank, his head cocked as though he were afraid for me.

“Padre,” he said, his voice timid.

I waved a hand at him, wishing he would scoot away, deeper into the shadows where he belonged. He had changed, as I suspected he would, but it was amazing that he could still speak.
His arms and legs and back were covered in thick matted fur and his spine arched wide. Soon he would be down on all fours and his nose would grow long, his teeth jagged. But right now he was somewhere in between boy and wolf.

He took a step toward me, concern in his eyes. Behind him, his pack growled and howled. They knew me better than he did.

My own limbs snapped and cracked, my transition nothing like it was when I was younger. Every bit of it as if my bones were being ground into powder. Only the touch of the water on my flesh and the silver light of the moon seemed to offer any release from the pain. I stumbled back toward the shore, temporarily able to balance myself on two legs, although by the time I reached shallow water, I had fallen down on all four.

Paws where hands had once been, a long snout instead of a nose.

A low growl sounded in my throat as Dog Boy approached.

He recognized me now, of course he did. My scent was like his own. He was the seed of my sin and part of me hoped that he had learned the secrets from the book I had given him. Right now I couldn’t remember what they were, only that they were very important.

Then I vaulted into a stiff run, paws grasping muddy river bank, pulling myself up toward the shelter of wooded shadow. Dog Boy recognized the look in my eyes just then, a moment too late perhaps. He turned and bounded away from me.

I stopped to howl at my mistress, the moon, at the same time, giving my son a head start.
Then I gave him chase that would last all night or longer if necessary, not stopping until one of us was dead. Part of me hoping that this would be my last hunt and that this child would be strong enough to finally end my curse.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Book Review: Shadow And Bone by Leigh Bardugo

AKA The Sisterhood of the Traveling Book:

For the past several months, I've been part of a book-lending tour de force. A group of authors, myself included, have waited patiently as a single ARC of Shadow And Bone made its way from one of us to another. I waited. And I waited. I tried to be patient, but it was really, really hard. As time passed, I heard more and more people on Twitter and Goodreads and blogs raving about this book—which still hadn't made its way to my mailbox.

Then, the day finally came.

Shadow And Bone was in my mailbox. No, it was in my hands. Pages were being turned and the rest of the world became dull and quiet. I was immediately transported to a far away land, like Russia but then again not like Russia. I have missionary friends who lived in Moscow for a long time and they would come home every year with stories that made me long to see the country for myself. Bardugo's Ravka should not be confused with modern-day Russia and I think it's important for readers to realize this going into the book. The author has created something like Russia, but even richer because of its added fantasy elements. The setting reminds me a bit of the 18th century, mainly because of the means of transportation and clothing—and oh, please don't get me started on the clothing. I could go on for pages about Bardugo's lovely descriptions of the wardrobes, the landscapes, the magic...and the romance.

This is epic fantasy, after all. Something we don't get to read that much anymore, unless we're reading something written 15 years ago.

One of things that impressed me most about this book was its artistic nature.

There is the beautiful cover, the amazing map, the gorgeous chapter headings and details on every page. I was an artist for many years and studied fine art in college, so I always notice when something is finely crafted. And this book is. But I'm not just talking about the publishing technique. I'm talking about the writing too.

The novel is bookended by two chapters written in omniscient POV, and the style has an almost fairy tale quality to it. From the first page, I was hooked. Then, when you get to the first chapter, the story is now being told in first person, from the viewpoint of Alina Starkov. Here again, we get another artistic nod when we discover that Alina is a cartographer. It's her job to draw sketches of the landscape as she travels with a large military regiment, all of them heading toward the dark, mysterious Shadow Fold that now divides the country of Ravka, separating those who live inland from the coast.

I don't want to say too much about the story itself. You have the synopsis below. But I must tell you, there is a major plot twist, combined with a surprising character reveal that will both surprise and, if you're like me, terrify you. You'll suddenly be on the edge of your seat, gripping the book with white-knuckled hands. And at that point the feeling that you were in a safe carriage, traveling across a lush foreign landscape will vanish.

You'll feel like the horses have run off, the driver's been shot and you and the carriage are now careening down a mountainside, completely out of control.

There will be an example of evil, so seductive and deceiving and, at the same time, completely believable, that it will astonish you. Then, hopefully you'll realize that this is what evil truly is. To me, as a reader, this depiction of true darkness is what makes this book so brilliant. Bardugo isn't just telling a pretty story about a teenage girl with a surprising ability. She's telling a metaphoric tale about our daily battle against the evil that surrounds us and threatens to overwhelm us. She's honest about the fact that we will make mistakes, but there will always be the possibility for redemption. And even though we stumble, we should never give up fighting the good fight.

This is the type of book that will stay with you, long after you read it. You may read it quickly, because it has an almost intoxicating effect. But you will never forget it.

My verdict?

Shadow And Bone is a five star, must-read.

And I can't wait for the next book in the series.

You can purchase the book here, here, here and here.

The lovely Leigh Bardugo:

Shadow And Bone synopsis:
Book One of the Grisha Trilogy
(Henry Holt/Macmillan)

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near-impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one unlikely refugee.Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life– a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha… and the secrets of her heart.

Interior page of book, which delineates the three different categories of the Grisha, also known as Masters of Small Science:

AND I’m running a CONTEST this week.

RULES: Make a comment on any of this week’s posts, share a link on either Facebook, Twitter or your blog, and you’ll be entered to win a $25 gift certificate from Amazon. Also, you must include your email address so I can contact the winner.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cover reveal: Waiting for Midnight

Today I get to share something fun, a little side project I've been working on for the past couple of months. My first novel, AFTERLIFE, came out in September, 2010. My second novel, FEAST, released in June, 2011. It's been a while since I've had any new books or stories published.

So, I put together an ebook short story collection, titled WAITING FOR MIDNIGHT. And today I'm doing a cover reveal.

[Imagine a drum roll here...]

[Ta da! Slightly ominous, but lovely image of girl in forest temporarily captivates readers...]

WAITING FOR MIDNIGHT is scheduled to release next week on Kindle and, even though the ebook is approximately 70 pages long and contains 20,000 words, it will be reasonably priced at .99.

I put this anthology together with my readers in mind, creating several new tales, as well as carefully selecting and editing stories I've written over the years.

Full of plot twists and dark characters, this combination of speculative short stories and flash fiction will contain a ghost story, a werewolf story and a science fiction story, as well as two tales that feature characters from my novels, AFTERLIFE and FEAST.

Here's a little info about some of the stories included:

Set on an alien world, “Letters from Home” tells the tale of a mother’s love for her wayward son and the great lengths to which she’ll go to rescue him from another dimension.

“Learning to Hunt” features Ash, the Darkling dream-eater introduced in FEAST: Harvest of Dreams, as he explores seventeenth-century Amsterdam, where his father teaches him how to harvest dreams.

“Waiting for Midnight” explores that dangerous territory between first love and obsession, all set in Primrose Wood, a forest where dark magic rules.


I'll be sure to keep you posted when the book goes up on Amazon! Meanwhile, feel free to share the cover of WAITING FOR MIDNIGHT online. In fact, I'd appreciate it if you would! I would be forever grateful if you would consider sharing a link to this blog post, or copy and paste the book cover image onto your blog or Facebook page.

A quick note, my newsletter subscribers will get to read one of the short stories FREE, before anyone else. And there's still time to sign up before the newsletter goes out.

And, a brief reminder:

TOMORROW: I'll be doing a book review for SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo.

AND I’m running a CONTEST this week.

RULES: Make a comment on any of this week’s posts, share a link on either Facebook, Twitter or your blog, and you’ll be entered to win a $25 gift certificate from Amazon. Also, you must include your email address so I can contact the winner.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What rescue dogs can teach us

BJ Taylor and I have known each other for about ten years. During that time we've been members of the same writing group, we've critiqued each other's work, we've traveled to writers conferences together, and we've even roomed together. To say she's my friend is an understatement. She's a very dear friend. She's one of the first people I call whenever my universe turns upside down.

Like all good friends, we have a lot things in common—writing being one of them. But there's another thing we have in common. Dogs.

We love, love, love dogs.

[BJ and Charlie Bear]

And we've both made every effort possible to choose rescue pets whenever we're looking for another furry friend. So, I know all about her recent rescue dog and the subject of her new awesome book, Charlie Bear. I heard stories firsthand as she and her husband went through that difficult, but rewarding challenge of taking in a pet with "issues."

Hey, I've got issues myself so I can relate. Just get me on the subject of elevators and you'll find out. But I digress...

BJ's book, CHARLIE BEAR: What a Headstrong Rescue Dog Taught Me about Life, Love, and Second Chances, just released a few days and it is AMAZING. I highly recommend that you check it out.

Here's a synopsis:

When B.J. Taylor first read about rescue dog Charlie Bear, she gazed at his photograph and knew right away he was the dog for her. She just hoped her husband, Roger, would agree. Thankfully, he did, and in the subsequent year, both B.J. and Roger soon discovered that Charlie Bear was brought into their world for a very special reason-to teach them about life, love, and second chances. Charlie Bear shares an intimate look at the first year in the life of a dog nearly labeled "unadoptable" by his foster mother due to his long list of behavioral issues. As he begins his new life, Charlie Bear ferociously guards his food and toys, throws temper tantrums, and is sensitive to touch. Although B.J. doubts their sanity in adopting Charlie Bear after he repeatedly attacks their other dog, Rex, she is determined to make it work for the sake of her husband, who has fallen in love. But when B.J.'s world begins to fall apart, she shares how time, patience, and faith helped her realize that Charlie Bear was not the only one who needed a second chance-she did, too. Charlie Bear offers a loving tribute to a rescue dog that eventually sheds his headstrong ways, becomes a loving member of a family, and ultimately changes three lives forever.

And here's what some other people have to say about the book:

“What a gift and privilege it is to witness the adorable Charlie Bear morph from an unwanted, issue-ladened orphan to a beloved, human rescuer under the loving care of B.J Taylor and her family. What a fabulous story—and I know stories!"—Jennifer Quasha, co-author of
Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Dog's Life and My Cat's Life    

“An endearingly straightforward tale of a dog and the love he inspires.”—Ptolemy Tompkins, author of The Divine Life of Animals; Contributing Editor, Guideposts; Senior Contributing Editor, Angels on Earth    

"As a lifelong advocate for the humane treatment of animals—and the founder/owner of A Place To Bark, a no-kill, foster and adoption rescue non-profit—I wholeheartedly support the mission and spirit of B.J. Taylor and her CHARLIE BEAR. I have known all types of pets; yet the headstrong ones like Charlie, which B.J. depicts so accurately and engagingly, have always seemed to capture my heart. And the fact that Charlie inspires so much love—and ultimately turns the tables and rescues 'his' humans!—makes this book a must-read for dog lovers across the globe!"—Bernie Berlin, Founder, A Place To Bark

As far as I'm concerned, all I have to do is look at that lost little guy on the cover and I want to read the book. If you're interested, you can purchase the book here, here and here.

Also, coming up this week:
TOMORROW: Cover reveal for WAITING FOR MIDNIGHT, my soon-to-be released ebook short story collection!!

FRIDAY: Book review for SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo

AND I’m running a CONTEST this week.

RULES: Make a comment on any of this week’s posts, share a link on either Facebook, Twitter or your blog, and you’ll be entered to win a $25 gift certificate from Amazon. Also, you must include your email address so I can contact the winner.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The writing life, writing groups, and my friend's new book

It's hard to believe that just two days ago I was surrounded by people, in the midst of a nonstop schedule of consultations, critiques, panels and classes. Even my meals were filled with the chatter of fellow writers, for I hosted tables during both lunch and dinner. It was wonderful and exciting and I was filled with adrenaline from the moment I woke up until the time I fell asleep.

And now all is quiet.

Now I spend my days before my computer screen, alone. Occasionally one of the dogs will wander in, ears perked up, hoping I'll take them for a walk. But other than that, the house is completely silent.

The writing life is strange. You go from days of total solitude to days where you're surrounded by people. It's like one day you're invisible, the next you're covered with neon, glow-in-the-dark paint.

I love it though.

I love building new worlds, one word at a time, creating imaginary people that I get to hang around with. Still, nothing compares to spending time with real people. That's one reason why my writing groups are so important. I need the support of other writers as I journey through the process of creating books.

And I'm super excited, because two members of my writing groups have brand new books.

One of these writing group pals is Mike Duran. His new book is his second supernatural thriller and it's titled The Telling and it released just a few days ago.

Here's a synopsis of the book:

Despite his love for words, when ZEPH WALKER sees his body lying on the gurney in the county morgue, he is speechless. Disfigured by his stepmother as a teenager, the hideous scar across Zeph’s face has forced him into a life of seclusion. Cloistered in a ramshackle bookstore on the outskirts of town, Zeph is blessed with an uncanny ability to sound souls—to intuit peoples’ deepest sins and secrets. He calls it the Telling, but has abandoned the gift to his unbelief and despair. Until two detectives escort him to the county morgue, where he learns that the bizarre look-alike of himself has been found murdered.

If you think that sounds both creepy and intriguing, then you would be right. Mike has created a rich, completely believable world, populated with some quirky, yet lovable characters. This is the type of book that keeps you turning the pages because you HAVE to know what happens, but at the same time you don't want to read too fast because the writing is incredibly lush and beautiful. My recommendation? Go ahead and read it fast. The first time. Then go back and read it again, slower this time, just to enjoy the journey and the lovely prose.

The Telling is available here, here and here. And if you want to read a longer synopsis, check out Mike's website.

Also a reminder: I’m running a CONTEST this week.

RULES: Make a comment on any of this week’s posts, share a link on either Facebook, Twitter or your blog, and you’ll be entered to win a $25 gift certificate from Amazon. Also, you must include your email address so I can contact the winner.

Coming up tomorrow:

Another new book by one of my writing group pals—BJ Taylor and her new inspirational book, Charlie Bear: What a Headstrong Rescue Dog Taught Me about Life, Love, and Second Chances.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Conference update, some cool stuff and a $25 Amazon gift card giveaway

The OCCWF Writers Conference was amazing! I got to speak on two panels, lead a rogue critique session and co-teach a class on speculative fiction. I got to see some old friends and meet new ones.

[Left to right: Andy Meisenheimer, freelance editor; Mick Silva, freelance editor; me; Rachelle Gardner, agent]

I also had an opportunity to encourage other writers (one of my favorite things to do). But one thing that made this conference so special was the fact that two members from my writers group were teaching and they both had new books out. (Yay and congrats to Mike Duran and B.J. Taylor!)

Later this week I’ll tell you a little bit about their books.

Another thing that was really cool was the fact that a dear friend of mine, Andrea Jones, won the grand prize for the fiction writing contest. (Eeeek!)

[Andrea's on the far right]

She won this from The Editorial Department: “An in-depth assessment and coaching of an author's writing style, based on the principles of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Editorial Department founder Renni Browne and Dave King.”

If you’re a writer, can you imagine getting an editorial memo from Renni Browne? I think I’d scream! I bit my writer’s teeth on his writing book, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. If you’ve never read his book, I highly recommend it.

There’s some really neat stuff coming up on my blog this week!

On Thursday, I’m going to reveal the cover for my upcoming e-book collection of short stories titled, Waiting For Midnight. This collection of 16 stories includes a ghost story, a werewolf story, a science fiction story, as well as two stories that feature characters from my novels, AFTERLIFE and FEAST. The collection will release sometime within the next 2 weeks.

Subscribers to my newsletter will get a sneak peek! They’ll get to read the first story for FREE. So, you might want to sign up for my newsletter. *hint, hint*

I’m running a contest this week.
RULES: Make a comment on any of this week’s posts, share a link on either Facebook, Twitter or your blog, and you’ll be entered to win a $25 gift certificate from Amazon. Also, you must include your email address so I can contact the winner.

Coming up this week:

TUESDAY: Mike Duran’s new book, The Telling

WEDNESDAY: BJ Taylor’s new book, Charlie Bear

THURSDAY: Cover reveal for my short story collection, Waiting For Midnight

FRIDAY: Book review: Shadow And Bone by debut YA author, Leigh Bardugo

PLUS: $25 Gift Certificate for Amazon to be awarded on TUESDAY, MAY 29.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Why you shouldn’t throw out your old manuscripts.

Today, I have a guest post by fellow HarperCollins author, Nicole Murphy. If you're ever wondered what to do with that old manuscript, read on! Nicole has some great advice.

Because you can use them one day. That’s why.

Right, now that I’ve got the short answer out of the way, folks who are interested can read on. The rest of you – have a nice day :)

Here’s the thing – you’re probably going to have a LOT of ideas in your lifetime. And new ideas tend to push the old ideas out of your head. That story that right now you love? In a few years time, you’ll forget it ever existed.

That’s why you need to keep everything you write. You won’t remember that really cool idea. You won’t remember that sweet little story that you just loved, but then magpie-like a new idea came and you put it aside, saying that you’d go back to it later, although you never did.

Then you get to have the joy that one day – probably in the name of procrastination – you decide to tidy up your hard drive or filing system or wherever you keep your stories and you open the file and you read it and realise that it’s still a sweet, lovely story and how on Earth did you forget it?

It happens. Happened to me just a few months ago and that story is out on submission and being heavily considered by a magazine at the moment. So keep them.

So what then? It’s very true that old manuscripts can have a new life, but how and in what way?

Well, sometimes the idea of the manuscript is interesting, but the way it’s currently written just isn’t working. For example, I’ve got this weird little hybrid thing that is a mix of genres, tied together in a simple story of a father whose job it is to create the manual by which his unborn child will be educated (not quite the same as actually bearing the child, but at least he’s playing a part). The idea is great – however when I wrote it way back in 2002, I just didn’t have the skills to make it work. So it sits on my hard-drive, being seen on the occasions I decide to tidy up, being remembered and slowly but surely cooking until it’s ready.

Sometimes, you just didn’t get round to doing the final polish and submission on the story. So you do it, and you submit it and what do you know? You’ve actually sold something that might never have been sold if you threw it away.

Sometimes it’s a storyline, or a character, or a scene or a line that makes its way across to a new piece. Something you’d have to create all over again, if you didn’t have a version of it ready to go with a few alterations.

Then there are the stories waiting for the right time, the right circumstances, to find their home. One such story for me was “The Right Connection”.

I wrote this story in 2002. It was part of a push for me to accept that instead of just writing romance as sub-plots in stories (including the weird little hybrid thing I mentioned earlier), I should just bite the bullet and have a go at writing a full-on romance.

I got to the end of that story and I quite liked it, but then I realised that if I was ever going to get ANY of the novella-novel length stories I’d written published, I needed to learn how to edit.

And I’d just had an idea for a fantasy romance, featuring a secret magical race that lived amongst us humans. So I taught myself to edit through the process of writing what would eventually become the Dream of Asarlai trilogy, which is currently on sale in Australia and I HOPE will one day be available around the rest of the world.

Roll on to 2007. “The Right Connection” was five years old and just wouldn’t let me go. I’d continually re-open the file, fall in love with Taylor and Roden all over again, but I just wasn’t sure what to do with it. I wanted to try writing a screenplay and I thought maybe that was what “The Right Connection” should be. Nope, just wasn’t going to fit there either. So I closed the file again.

Roll on to 2011. Again the file was opened. Again, I tinkered with it. I did more worldbuilding. There was something about this story, a heart, but I just couldn’t put my finger on what to do with it. Disheartened, I moved on to something else.

And so we come to this year. In March, I decided to get more heavily involved in self-publishing – both as a form of publicity for the Asarlai trilogy, and to set myself deadlines (yeah, I know, I love deadlines and that’s all kind of wrong).

And bang. Just like that, I knew what “The Right Connection” would be – my first self-published novella.

So here it is – finally out in the world, like a real grown-up story. And that would never have happened if, at some time over the years, I’d thought to myself ‘Well, this story is old, forget it’ and tossed it.

So don’t toss your stories. Hold them, look at them from time to time, because you never know what they’ll grow up to be.

NOTE: Nicole is also the author of Secret Ones, Power Unbound and Rogue Gadda.

Nicole, thanks so much for joining us today!

Now, post a comment below, telling Nicole of something that you just can’t let go, and you’ll be in the draw to win a copy of “The Right Connection” (electronic only).